Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book #Review - The Defiant by Lesley Livingston #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Valiant # 2
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The darling of the Roman Empire is in for the fight of her life in this lush sequel to the acclaimed historical fantasy The Valiant.

Be brave, gladiatrix…And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you’ll earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon was warned.

Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart - and her love for Roman soldier Cai - but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors.

The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.

The Defiant is the second but not last installment in author Lesley Livingston's The Valiant series. They call Fallon "Victrix" now. Victory. But winning the highest honor ever bestowed upon a gladiatrix in Rome has earned Fallon more deadly enemies outside the arena than she ever faced within it. And it is those dearest to Fallon who will pay the price for her success. Now, Fallon and her warrior sisters of Ludus Achilles Academy are thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon's heart - and her love for Roman soldier Cai - but the very heart of the Roman Empire.

Let me summarize. It has been a year since Fallon arrived in the heart of the Roman Republic, first a slave, and later as a gladiatrix for Julius Caesar the woman who she thought was long dead. She fought and received a ceremonial sword of freedom which she gave to someone else. Probably not the smartest move Fallon has done up to this point. Especially since Julius Caesar hasn't freed Fallon and her gladiatrix sisters who fight for Ludus Achilles. Then the unthinkable happens.

While a rival female gladiatrix academy is visiting, Pontius Aquilla aka the Collector, makes his move on Sorcha, Rome's Lady Achillea. This moves brings back some of Fallon's most hated enemies who would do anything to see her dead. This sends Fallon, Caius Antonius Varro, Quintus, his second in command, and Fallon's sister gladiatrix on a mission to save their academy, those left behind in their rush to escape, as well as Fallon's sister Sorcha. 

One can definitely say that this story spends a whole lot of time as fugitives. Fallon herself is supposed to be the leader of a supposed rebellion against Rome. Rome has a short memory when it comes to rebellions. In fact, Fallon is being compared to Spartacus. Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator who, along with the Gauls Crixus, Gannicus, Castus, and Oenomaus, was one of the escaped slave leaders in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. 

What makes this a pretty decent read, is the new characters that are introduced. Even though they are secondary, or even tertiary characters for the most part, I believe that we haven't seen the last of them. I also respect the way that Fallon has become the default leader of Ludus Achilles Academy while Sorcha claims to never again want to fight. Fallon's guts and determination override any hesitancy one might have at poking fun at Sorcha. I also appreciated that the sisters stand shoulder to shoulder when all is said an done, but not alone. Nope. They have Cai, and Charon who you met in the first book. I have to also say that I adored Quint and his fondness for the hard core Elka. In today's world, Quint would probably be called dozens of names for chasing hard after someone like Elka. 

For those who are curious about my second by not last comment above. The author has a third book planned for this series releasing in 2019. The title has been listed on Goodreads as The Triumphant

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